Let’s just agree right off the bat that we aren’t going to get into “the infected are vs. the infected aren’t” zombies argument, k? People are passionate about their beliefs on the subject. We get it. I’m not even going to say which side of the argument I fall on. That said, Wyrmwood is a new Aussie zombie flick, of the infected variety, from first time director Kiah Roache-Turner, who also co-wrote it with brother Tristan Roache-Turner . It promises to be “Mad Max meets Dawn of the Dead”, and if you ask me, that’s pretty much making the bold statement that this is probably the best thing ever. Can it even be expected to deliver entertainment on that level? The short answer is no, the longer answer is below.
Synopsis from IMDB:
Barry is a talented mechanic and family man whose life is torn apart on the eve of a zombie apocalypse. His sister, Brooke, is kidnapped by a sinister team of gas-mask wearing soldiers & experimented on by a psychotic doctor. While Brooke plans her escape Barry goes out on the road to find her & teams up with Benny, a fellow survivor – together they must arm themselves and prepare to battle their way through hordes of flesh-eating monsters in a harsh Australian bushland.
When Wyrmwood begins, and you see these big armored up dudes wearing masks, blowing zombie heads in half left and right, it’s hard not to get excited (provided the notion of watching Army of Two vs zombies is exciting to you). Sadly, not long after that we enter “the flashback zone”, where we are given some not-so-exciting backmatter on main character Barry. I’m all for character development, and it’s important to sort of show a little “how we got to here” but it runs long. It runs very long. There’s also a bunch of guys in gas masks who have kidnapped Barry’s sister, and a scientist who is in a trailer running experiments on survivors and zombies alike, which is pretty standard for this type of movie. The problem is, you learn all you want to learn (and more) about Barry, who ends up being pretty uninteresting, and almost nothing is explained about these guys in gas masks, or this mad scientist, and I was way more interested in them and what they were doing.
The performances are up and down throughout. At times Wyrmwood feels like a horror-comedy, because I couldn’t tell if the actors were trying to be serious or funny. I don’t think it was supposed to be funny though, and that presents a problem. Jay Gallagher (Barry) and Bianca Bradey (Brooke) come closest to being standouts, which is fitting being that they’re the leads. Leon Burchill as Benny was particularly bad, and the most frequent guilty party in the aforementioned “is this a horror-comedy or not” question.
Wyrmwood still ends up being semi-entertaining, even with all of it’s flaws. Credit where credit is due, it at least attempts to stand out in a genre that’s been far beyond over-saturated for years now. The problem being, those differences arent fleshed out or explained well enough to matter. If you’re a die hard fan of zombies, particularly the running, infected kind, and aren’t looking for much in terms of story, Wyrmwood might be worth a watch. Zombie purists, and those who prefer a little exposition with their flesh ripping will most likely find nothing but frustration here.